The NFL adopted a policy that would fine teams and league personnel who do not “stand and show respect for the flag and the Anthem,” the league announced Wednesday.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement that the policy was approved "in concert with the NFL's ongoing commitment to local communities and our country."
The policy read: "the 32 member clubs of the National Football League have reaffirmed their strong commitment to work alongside our players to strengthen our communities and advance social justice."
The teams agreed to the following requirements:
- "All team and league personnel on the field shall stand and show respect for the flag and the Anthem."
- "The Game Operations Manual will be revised to remove the requirement that all players be on the field for the Anthem."
- Personnel who choose not to stand for the Anthem may stay in the locker room or in a similar location off the field until after the Anthem has been performed."
- "A club will be fined by the League if its personnel are on the field and do not stand and show respect for the flag and the Anthem."
- "Each club may develop its own work rules, consistent with the above principles, regarding its personnel who do not stand and show respect for the flag and the Anthem."
- "The Commissioner will impose appropriate discipline on league personnel who do not stand and show respect for the flag and the Anthem."
Goodell said that the "efforts by many of our players sparked awareness and action around issues of social justice that must be addressed" but it was unfortunate that "on-field protests created a false perception among many that thousands of NFL players were unpatriotic."
"This is not and was never the case," he continued.
The policy comes in wake of the protests that were started by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
During the 2016-2017 NFL season, Kaepernick started kneeling during the anthem as part of a protest against police brutality. The hotly contested move was later adapted by other players as well, including former teammate Eric Reid.
After the kneeling triggered fierce debates across the country, and criticism from President Trump, the league moved to pay nearly $100 million to social justice causes supported by some players, despite critics' claims that it was meant purely to appease activist athletes.
NFL players reportedly defended Kaepernick and slammed league owners during an October meeting in New York City, demanding to know why the former 49ers player was, they believed, being blackballed.
NFL owners met this week to consider the new policy.
The National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) released a statement regarding the policy.
"The NFL chose to not consult the union in the development of this new 'policy.' NFl players have shown their patriotism through their social activism, their community service, in support of our military and law enforcement and yes, through their protests to raise awareness about the issues they care about," the statement read.
The NFLPA said the vote by the owners "contradicts the statements made to our player leadership by Commissioner Roger Goodell and the Chairman of the NFL's Management Council John Mara about the principles, values and patriotism of our league."
The NFLPA said they would "review the new 'policy.'"